Judging A Book By It’s Cover

The cover is the most important aspect of a book at the initial sales point. It communicates to the potential reader/customer the type of book it is and hopefully entices them to part with an amount of money which is less than a pint of beer.

There are other important aspects at the point of sale, like title, blurb, and reviews, but the first thing the human eye rests upon is the slab of colour that jumps out from the words. If you get this wrong then it’s curtains. Here are some ideas that I’ve had with my Illustrator for the first book I’m going to publish.

Before I jump right into it, I think I should remind people that I’m writing books that will be in the humour genre, a bit rom-commy and farcical at times.

1. Simple

It’s important in the eBook world that your cover is simple. It has to stand out in an inch-square world. The bookshelves on Amazon etc. are tiny little spaces on a screen, so if you have a cover that’s full of detail then it’ll just look like a mess.

One image is usually the standard, and as focussed as possible on one part of that image helps even more.

2. Few Words

Title and Author’s name. Done.

Also, as I’m not the well-known, international, best-selling author yet, my name is largely insignificant (although it hurts to say it), so the title should be your big sell.

3. Big Words

As well as there not being so many words, it’s also important that whatever is written on your cover can be read when it’s an inch small. It has to jump out at people, which leads me to the next point.

4. Contrast

It needs to jump out at people. The words need to contrast with the background, the image needs to contrast with the background and the words.

You have 3 elements; background, image, words. They all have to be visible.

5. Bright

Although this changes with genre, for a humour book the brighter the better. For a horror or serious crime novel, dark and moody is pretty good. But for me it needs to be bright and cheerful, so that it looks like it will be able to make someone laugh.

6. Illustration

Again, different genres have different styles and photographed images tend to be the staple for more serious books, but for humour books an illustration is almost mandatory in order to convey to the reader that this is a funny book. How funny your image should be depends upon how silly your book is.

7. Background

I don’t like covers with white backgrounds when they’re online because they fade into the white screen of Amazon etc. If you have a white cover then you need to put a border around it, and I don’t like that. Just personal. For me, I want a colourful background.

There’s also a school of thought about different values level people being attracted to different colours, so to understand the type of person you are aiming the book at could influence what colour you choose. Blue tends to be more mainstream and credible, Red is more aggressive and confrontational, Purple is a bit more out there, Green is a very eco colour, and so on…

8. Look at the market

My Illustrator and I went through the bestsellers online, in my particular genre, and had a discussion about what we thought worked and what didn’t. We picked up ideas and this then informed a much better discussion about what I wanted.

The thing is, your cover is so important that you have to be 100% behind whatever you choose. After all, this is one of the benefits of self-publishing if done right. You’re going to be using this image in loads of places; blogs, webpages, business cards, posters, flyers, however you choose to market your book you’ll be using this image more than anything else. It has to be bang on.

Have any of you actually been down this road yet and if so, how was it?


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